Coverage of the tragedy at Fort Hood, which left at least 13 dead, has continued its evolution. I mentioned Friday that it began with shock and ended up with Muslims condemning the alleged actions of Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan. The focus now has turned to fallout for the thousands of other Muslim members of the active-duty military. From the Wall Street Journal:
The push to boost Muslim representation has proven to be a double-edged sword for the military, which desperately needs the Muslim soldiers for their language skills and cultural knowledge, but also worries that a small percentage of those soldiers might harbor extremist ideologies or choose to turn their guns on their fellow soldiers.
In one of the military's most notorious cases of fratricide since Vietnam, Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a convert to Islam, rolled a grenade into a tent filled with other soldiers in April 2003. The attack killed two officers and wounded 14 others. During his court-martial, prosecution witnesses testified Sgt. Akbar had committed the attack because he believed the U.S. military would kill Muslim civilians during the coming invasion. Sgt. Akbar was later sentenced to death.
Muslim soldiers also face challenges stemming from their dual identities as adherents of the Islamic faith and as members of the U.S. military. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Muslims serving in the U.S. military often use fake last names to avoid being singled out by insurgents as traitors and to prevent reprisals against their families elsewhere in the world.
Pretty good story from the Wall Street Journal -- good graphic and it covers a lot of ground in a short space. But some big unanswered questions. Primarily: Why would insurgents single out these "traitors?"
I can infer, but readers shouldn't have to. Assumptions lead to mistakes. That's the first thing I teach the new reporting interns at UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Let's see if the Paper of Record did any better. This story from The New York Times surveys what politicians and bureaucrats had to say on the Sunday morning news shows. The short answer: No.
General George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said on Sunday that he was concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, could "cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers."
"I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that," General Casey said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." "It would be a shame -- as great a tragedy as this was -- it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well."
General Casey, who was appeared on three Sunday news programs, used almost the same language during an interview on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," an indication of the Army's effort to ward off bias against the more than 3,000 Muslims in its ranks.
"A diverse Army gives us strength," General Casey, who visited Fort Hood Friday, said on "This Week."
Senators Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Jack Reed also weighed in, thanking Muslim troops for their service. But missing from any of this is discussion of what it means to be a Muslim member of the military. The WSJ discussed the strategic import of Muslim soldiers and the NYT article focused on fears for their treatment. But missing from either article -- a quote from one of those Muslims.
Sure, the military is worried, but are they?